Fifty years ago, our community was blessed with the courage, intelligence, and dedication of Mr. Ernie Koepp. Since then, Ernie has become a legacy in the Fire and EMS profession, having a hand in teaching many of Wisconsin’s finest.

Ernie has given us 50 amazing years. Included in those years are 16 years as EMS Chief, where he pioneered the Poynette EMS program. Forty-three of those years were spent at Madison College, teaching EMS to thousands of medical professionals.

Ernie has a heart of gold. He is as equally humble as he is proud. He’s one of the greatest story tellers around.

“If you haven’t heard a tale from ‘Big Ern,’ you’re missing out!” a Facebook post of the department read.

He is so well-respected and admired by our entire organization and truly exemplifies our heart and soul. He’s done a wonderful job of mixing what he calls his “old school” learnings with modern medicine, and is so good at reminding us that considering history at every step makes us stronger and more competent professionals.

You want to see a proud man? Ask Ernie about his family. Ernie and his wife, Betty Lou, celebrate 54 years of marriage this year. Ernie also brought us the talents of his daughter, Sherri Lynn, who serves as the Treasurer for our Fire Commission. Ernie will be the first to thank his family for his years of service, knowing their support was essential in his success.

“Let’s hear it for this amazing human being! Ernie, we love you,” the Facebook post continues. “You have touched so many lives (and hearts) along the way. We couldn’t have asked for a better ambassador for the first responder community and Poynette-Dekorra Fire & EMS. Ernie, thank you!”

Koepp led way for AEDs in Poynette area

One of the many highlights of Koepp’s long career came nearly 10 years ago, as he led the charge to get AEDs (automated external defibrillators into various locations around Poynette, Dekorra and other surrounding areas. Koepp knows the small device can help save lives in an emergency and is a more effective way than traditional CPR methods.

They are now found in Poynette’s Village Hall, local churches, the MacKenzie Center, police cars, banks and the local Piggly Wiggly.

Shortly after an AED was installed at MacKenzie Center in 2012, it was put in use and saved a man’s life. At the time if cost around $1,400 for an AED to be purchased and installed.

“You think, ‘I’m going to spend $1,400 to put an AED box on the wall, and I’ll probably never have to use it.’” Koepp said in a 2012 interview. “But to me, that’s the best $1,400 you could ever spend,” he said. “If I walk into one of the local businesses or an area church and collapse (with a heart problem), I hope somebody knows how to put the AED on.”

Having AEDs in the area gives people a chance for survival during those critical first minutes after a heart attack or similar incident.

“Our ambulance response time in the village is probably five minutes, but Dekorra, could be 10, 12, 15 minutes,” Koepp said in 2012. “It benefits EMS, because if you can get the AED on, and give the patient’s heart a shock, chances of surviving are pretty good. However, it is important to call 911 before using an AED.”

The second half of this article had information from the Poynette Press archives.

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